Josh Weathers is a name that is growing ever more popular among Texas Music circles on the heels of a 2012 that has seen him transition from DFW’s best kept secret and hardest working musician to a player on the larger regional scene. Weathers has done this on the strength of a YouTube clip that essentially went viraland a standout performance at LJT’s Texas Music Festival that reverberated for months after it happened. To capitalize on all the well-deserved buzz, Weathers has released a new collection of original songs titled Big Night in the City.
This is not the Texas Music of Keen, Van Zandt or Green. Weathers is a soulful troubadour with a flair for old school rock n’ roll and just enough of a hint of country to keep everything quintessentially Texan. As I described on Twitter, his latest record sounds like if Otis Redding cut a record with Willie Nelson in the producer’s seat. Quite a feat when you consider that Weathers is such the DIY-er that he produced the album himself with a little help from Nick Choate. Weathers wrote all the songs himself and arranged them with his band except for the track “So Long” which enlisted the help of a co-writer.
The expressive saxophone work of Jeff Dazey is a standout among most tracks on this album, but it is truly Weathers’ own vocals and guitar chops that make this a special collection. ”Keep On” is a rolling romp that builds momentum to match its motivational lyrics. While at times this song is a bit lyrically cliche, it suits the song. Weathers has been known to bust out a scarily accurate George Strait impersonation during his acoustic sets and there is the slightest essence of the King’s vocal timbre mixed in on “That Kind of Man”. But, it’s with the title track that things really get going. A lilting piano riff paces this mid-tempo tune that mixes lyrical themes of love, nostalgia, innocence lost and cruising in such a satisfying mix that somewhere Bob Seger is jealous. Throwing in a a sample of Bruce Channel’s 60′s one hit wonder “Hey Baby!” in the bridge of the song is a satisfying climax that mirrors the tale happening in the lyrics.
A rootsy, Muddy Waters-esque guitar riff kicks off “Nobody” before giving way to a heavy, Stax influenced groove that would have both Freddie King and James Brown shaking their heads. Lyrically, the tune gives voice to Weathers strong desire to be a staunch independent musician. As evidenced, by the distribution of Big Night in the City solely being via his personal PayPal account and arriving at your mailbox in a manila envelope likely stuffed by Josh or his wife himself, Josh is living the independent musician thing to the hilt. Fortunately for him, his music and live shows have become undeniably in demand and it won’t be long before he’ll have people doing things like that for him.
Josh Weathers must be seen live in a full band format to be truly and fully appreciated, but this album gives a nice accounting of the style of music he’s turning into his own. If you’re a fan of the best stuff to come from Memphis and Chicago, and love your Texas Country too…this is the artist/album for you. If you like your stuff a little more twangy and a little more raw stay away. Think more Sean McConnell and Will Hoge…less Kevin Fowler and Aaron Watson. But, no matter what your musical preferences are…if you want to have too much fun on a Saturday night, find out where Josh Weathers is playing and immediately head to that dancehall. It will be a big night in the city for sure.